February 9, 2017

Away we go: Bavaria, Germany (Pt. 8)

On day 10 of our trip to Germany, we took a regional train just around 9 am (Bayern tickets again) to Nuremberg. We were lucky enough to find a train that went there in about 2 hours in the departure time that fit our schedule (all others took around 3 hours). By this time we had a regular routine with our long day trips -- get to the Munich Central Station early, double check our departure time and gate number, buy a ton of bread (I became a bread monster while in Germany) and coffee for the ride over.

We were eager to get to Nuremberg as I had several sights I wanted to see. Unfortunately though our trip ran into some trouble early on which made us change up our plans a little bit.

After going a few stops away from the Munich Central Station, our train stalled for a good 30 minutes until the train conductor finally announced that due to technical failure the train would no longer make the trip to Nuremberg. All passengers were instructed to get off and head to another gate where an incoming train was also on its way to Nuremberg (the one that had the travel time of 3 hours - doh). There was already a significant number of passengers on that train and with the extra people that got on, there were no seats available and everyone crammed in. But all this didn't make our trip any less enjoyable. We actually ended up in the same car with a bunch of high school students and I had an inkling they were going to the same place we were going as soon as we arrived in Nuremberg. The Nazi Documentation Center and Rallying Grounds. 

As soon as the train arrived at the Nuremberg station our entire car burst into cheers and applause. By far this was the most animated and playful crowd we've been with among all the train rides we've taken in Germany. 

From the Nuremberg Station we took the #9 tram to Doku-Zentrum (go through the underpass to come back out to where the trams stop - there are signs leading you there). The TI also sells the Nuremberg Card (I was raving about how the Salzburg Card was such a good investment for us) but we opted not to buy one since we didn't have much time to sightsee because we had arrived late and during the winter months many museums and sightseeing sights have earlier closing times. Yangkyu and I ended up grabbing a quick bite at the train station before hopping on the #9 tram, which dropped us right in front of the Nazi Documentation Center. It seriously doesn't get any more convenient than this (walking to the Nazi Documentation Center from the train station is too far). Traveler's dream.

Nuremberg with all its beauty, medieval architecture and its biggest Christmas market, also has a haunting Nazi past. The Nazi chose this city to hold their massive party conventions and rallies

The Nazi Documentation Center and Rallying Grounds is huge. And you need to walk a while to get to some of the sites like the Zeppelin Field. We didn't have time to see all the remains which I regretted. It was one downside of our day trips where we didn't have enough time to see everything we wanted.

We began inside the museum and unlike the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, the signs next to each photo and exhibition wasn't translated into English. So having an audio guide is essential in understanding what the museum has to offer -- the beginnings of the Nazi movement and social impacts that led to the rise, the phenomenon and also the museum's efforts to educate people to ensure that something like this never happens again. 

Many students were on a field trip to the documentation center, which was so great to see, but there were also tourists of all ages, each taking the time to read, listen and watch the horrific accounts from the Nazi era. 

One of the exhibits I was most interested in had to do with the Nuremberg Trials. There is a room dedicated to the trials with newspaper clippings, a video that is played on loop of the actual trials, books and pictures. I wanted to go to the Nuremberg Palace of Justice where the trials were held but unfortunately it was closed on the day we were there. 

The other striking exhibit at the Nazi Documentation Center was the unfinished Congress Hall, which was designed to hold 50,000 people. It was incredibly sobering to stand within the crumbling remains. From the museum, there is a ramp within a closed glass casing where you can view the Congress Hall suspended in mid-air. You can also walk the grounds as part of the walking tour of the rallying grounds. You can also view it from afar while walking over to the Zeppelin Field.

After the museum tour, Yangkyu and I walked about 20 minutes to see the Zeppelin Field, the Nazi rallying ground where they held mass shows and where Hitler addressed his supporters. The Zeppelin Field had a gigantic swastika on top of the grandstand which was blown up in 1945 after the Nazi fall in World War II. On the day we went, it stood quietly, hauntingly, significantly withered away. There were only a few skateboarders and a handful of other tourists who were visiting. It almost seemed so contradictory - a place where once there were mass gatherings to on this particular day, where it was nearly empty - the long banners and lights long gone, only the sounds of distant cars and skateboards scraping against the pavement.

I can tell you that both Yangkyu and I felt a little somber after our tour of the museum and Zeppelin Field. We didn't have enough time to see the rest of the rallying grounds and so instead we turned back and headed back to the tram stop to go back to the Old Town.

We arrived just when the sun was setting which set the perfect mood to view the Nuremberg Christmas Market which is the biggest and most famous Christmas market in Germany.

Yangkyu and I ate a few things, shopped but mostly took in the atmosphere. It as a bit hard to get into the festive spirit right after viewing some of the Nazi history but when we came across the children's section of the Christmas market, it was easy to fully immerse ourselves in the joy and laughter. Kids (and dogs) do that to you, I guess.

After walking around sampling food, shopping, hearing caroling and jazzy Christmas music and grabbing some dinner, we headed back to the train station to go back to Munich. It felt bittersweet - our last night in Germany which made us a bit sad, but we had exciting things waiting for us back home. 

I kept dropping hints on Instagram saying we have exciting things waiting for us and that was Bartles. While in Germany our adoption papers got approved and he was all ours to bring home. 

A trip that was all about healing and experiencing new things was exactly that. And Bartles happened to be the wonderful surprise that no one, including us, anticipated.

Right before leaving the Old Town but within the city walls, there is a little alleyway that led to a series of small shops and rustic restaurants. It's called Handwerkerhof (Craftsmen Courtyard) where traditional handcrafted items are made and sold. We strolled through and admired the little windows decorated with lights and decorations and wished we had actually eaten dinner here. I loved everything about Germany, but it was these little wonderful little nooks and alleyways that stole my heart. It was small but charming. 

While in Nuremberg we missed out on a few sights -- the Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg), Albrecht Dürer's house, Germanic National Museum and as I mentioned earlier, the Palace of Justice which was also closed on the day we were there (Tuesday). Still, Nuremberg was a wonderful final full day of our trip. 

I have a few more Germany related posts I want to work on -- 1. recapping our final day (travel day); 2. getting pictures I took on my phone on to this space and 3; a little short story about a Korean restaurant we ate at while staying in Munich. In the past, I would've gotten all these posts over and done with in a jiffy but I kind of like the slower pace in getting everything edited, written up and published.

I hope you'll continue to stick around for more of our Germany travel stories. 


  1. Oh I'm glad your entries aren't over! It's been amazing reading/following along - such a trip, filled with many emotions and so lovely for you guys to get to go home to Bartles!

  2. Those Christmas markets look amazing! I expect most visits to the city would be quite somber, though.

  3. I love how you got the Bartles news while you were in Germany - what a lovely surprise :)

  4. I love the gorgeous warm qualities of these photos at the end. There's such a stark contrast to the pictures from the Nazi convention center.

    You are so gifted with photography!

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